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The Protean Ptyx: Nonsense, Non-Translation, and Word Magic in Mallarmé’s ‘Sonnet en yx’

Duncan, D; (2019) The Protean Ptyx: Nonsense, Non-Translation, and Word Magic in Mallarmé’s ‘Sonnet en yx’. In: Harding, J and Nash, J, (eds.) Modernism and Non-Translation. Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

This chapter presents an extensive analysis of questions of translation and non-translation through the focal point of Stéphane Mallarmé’s ‘Sonnet en yx’. It traces early responses to this poem that highlighted the challenge to interpretation posed by ‘ptyx’: was this a nonsensical neologism or an untranslated derivation from another language? The chapter shows how the term resonated with other artists and moved ‘from the category of the untranslated to the untranslatable’. The term exemplifies a kind of ‘word magic’ that modernism conjures out of non-translation, a quasi-mysticism of unfamiliar noises that prompts readers to dwell on formal and sonic capacities as well as the conceptual contours of language.

Type: Book chapter
Title: The Protean Ptyx: Nonsense, Non-Translation, and Word Magic in Mallarmé’s ‘Sonnet en yx’
ISBN: 0198821441
ISBN-13: 9780198821441
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198821441.001.0001
Publisher version: https://doi.org/110.1093/oso/9780198821441.001.000...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Mallarmé, ptyx, Alfred Jarry, pataphysics, surrealism, Basic English, impossibility of translation
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of English Lang and Literature
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10091361
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